Case Summary by Erik Magrakan
Re: Rule 14-1(18)
Case: Brooks-Martin v. Martin
 
Sanderson and Bullock Orders

When a Plaintiff sues 2 parties and succeeds only against one the Court had a discretion under former Rule 57(18) to order that the unsuccessful defendant pay the successful defendants costs.  Depending on the way a court goes about doing this will label the result a “Sanderson Order” or a “Bullock Order“.  This rule has been reproduced in theNew Rules of Court at Rule 14-1(18) and the first judgement I’m aware of considering this discretion under the New Rules was released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Nanaimo Registry.

In last week’s case (Brooks-Martin v. Martin)  the Plaintiff was injured in a 2005 collision in Saanich, BC.  The Plaintiff was travelling in the “C” position behind a motorcycle operated by her husband who was travelling in the “A” position.   Her husband unexpectedly cut in front of her.  In trying to avoid a collision with her husband she lost control, fell down onto the road and was injured.

(Accident Reconstruction Software courtesy of SmartDraw)

At trial Mr. Justice Halfyard found the Defendant 70% at fault and the Plaintiff 30% at fault. The Plaintiff also sued another Defendant although they were found faultless.  The Plaintiff asked for a Sanderson order to minimize her costs consequences following trial although this application was dismissed.  Prior to doing so Mr. Justice Halfyard provided the following useful summary of the legal test required to get a Sanderson or Bullock order:

[6] The court’s power to make the order sought by the plaintiff is set out in Rule 14-1(18), which states:

(18)  If the costs of one defendant against a plaintiff ought to be paid by another defendant, the court may order payment to be made by one defendant to the other directly, or may order the plaintiff to pay the costs of the successful defendant and allow the plaintiff to include those costs as a disbursement in the costs payable to the plaintiff by the unsuccessful defendant.

[7] In order to justify the exercise of discretion in his or her favour, a plaintiff must establish two elements, namely:

a) that it was reasonable for the plaintiff to have sued the successful defendant together with the unsuccessful defendant; and

b) that there was some conduct on the part of the unsuccessful defendant (such as asserting that the successful defendant was the culprit in the case or committing some act or acts which caused the plaintiff to bring the successful defendant into the litigation) which makes it just to require the unsuccessful defendant to pay the costs of the successful defendant.

See Grassi v. WIC Radio Ltd. 2001 BCCA 376 at paras 32-34; Davidson v. Tahtsa Timber Ltd. 2010 BCCA 528 at paras 53-54.

[8] The first element is a threshold requirement for the exercise of the court’s discretion. This question is looked at mainly from the perspective of the plaintiff. But if the plaintiff has alleged independent causes of action against the two defendants and if these two causes of action are not connected, the plaintiff will not be able to meet the threshold test. See Robertson v. North Island College Technical and Vocational Institute (1980), 26 B.C.L.R. 225 (C.A.) at paras 23-24; Davidson v. Tahtsa Timber Ltd. at para. 52.